CAT: The issue of Accuracy versus Speed
I am back from term break and with new topics. I received 45 emails from you and I am still going through the mails. A few mails are on the issue of accuracy and speed.
Today I'll address the most important one for CAT exam: Accuracy Vs Speed. Which one to choose? Accuracy or Speed? We are really confused on the subject. Now, what I can do is tell you my experience here.
Well it's not
Accuracy + Speed = CAT
Accuracy*Speed = CAT
Since it is a multiplicative model, so things needed to kept flexible here. Accuracy alone can't crack CAT for you unless you're very naturally gifted! I am not that gifted. So, I generated my OWN MIX - THE CRACK CAT mix!
You need both, otherwise your score will be low. That's very easy to say! But to get both is one of the most difficult things to do - all CAT aspirants cracking their brains over Mock CAT papers understand it very well. In the actual exam, it'll be most difficult thing to do with surprises, time limits, probably a new type of paper with the arrangements changed, etc. etc. No, it's not a horror movie - you never know what may come in CAT! Already 2.5 hrs thing is a surprise to all of us!
Well, enough of surprises - to hell with them! Now accuracy-speed mix - I went for THE RIGHT MIX on the D-day. What's that? Wait! I mean, I went for less accuracy and more speed to answer over 100 questions. The rule is quite simple - apply this even in practice.
Don't go for detailed calculations unless absolutely essential. If a question requires detailed calculations, skip it unless it has the highest weightage. Go for the easy kills. CAT is a TEST OF ELIMINATION - I mean it! Eliminate the difficult ones and kill the easier ones.
Rough estimates will do good for many questions. I noted in previous 10 years CAT papers that for many questions 2 answers would be close to the rough estimate and the rest I could eliminate. Moreover, among these 2 close answers, one would be closer than the other - you can make a guess. Take a good look at the quants in CAT papers. I know majority of you perhaps have discovered it already - but no harm in telling. Practice with this strategy in Mock tests - 99% of the cases you'll be very accurate without doing precise calculations.
In stepwise solving of a problem, you don't need to do all the steps if you can solve the problem midway. Leave it and circle the answer. Thus you can save time to answer 2-3 more questions.
Under pressure, getting an accuracy of over 90% depends on luck too. So, believe in your luck a bit and don't get stuck on a single problem. Try to answer over 80-90. Even if you answer 50 with 100 percent accuracy you may get calls, depending on the level of difficulty - but over 90% accuracy is difficult to get in the actual exam! Go for speed! Trust your intuitions that you have cultivated giving one mock CAT paper after other.
If you feel that certain section seems very easy, - say quants, understandably the cut-off there will be higher. Hence answer max that you can from that section. Don't stop after answering usual 35 from there.
Moreover, from last CAT the IIMs have started to clearly state the negative marks and marks for individual questions. Now if one question has high marks and you are not able to answer, check the negative marks and you can take your chances and go with a probable guess as the expected returns are greater if your answer is correct.
BUT, I am not ruling out accuracy here - I am talking about decreasing the accuracy level by a small margin to increase speed by a big margin. Every one with whom I talked, who scored over 98 percentile, had answered more than 80 questions - so speed is very vital.
Try in practice tests - go for speed and answer minimum 100 questions in the stipulated time - as many as possible. See your accuracy levels - give tests for continuously 7 days, now see the difference! For me accuracy went from 50% on the first day to over 75%. What worked for me will definitely work for some of you - I was a bit slow in the beginning few months to concentrate on accuracy.
One advice - while you are taking these mock tests prepare the environment as original. Give tests with partner(s) - it increases competitiveness and you can't lax. One highly competitive test per day is enough. Take the rest of the day to analyze where you went wrong.
Now, while doing this way - u'll find that within two weeks or so, you have reached a balance - the perfect mix of speed and accuracy. If you are answering over 80 with 95% accuracy in last 3-4 years CAT papers, that is good enough to pull you through. That's how you develop the right mix - that is very essential for CAT.
Send me your feedbacks. I'll check the rest of the mails and come up with another relevant discussion pretty soon.
Keep mugging and reading my blog till then.